Porting a Phone Number to Google Voice
MYTH: GOOGLE VOICE IS A WIRELESS CARRIER
Google Voice is NOT a wireless carrier. We put this Google Voice article in the Wireless Carrier section because that’s where people tend to look for it. But Google Voice is not a true wireless carrier. They piggyback off the data network that comes with the phone service of your actual wireless carrier’s service. Or off of the WiFi network you are connected to. Google Voice is not part of the handset like your primary number is. It does not reside on your one and only SIM card. There is no such thing as a Google Voice cell tower. It uses a mobile app on your handset that provides you with account login and a dial pad for outbound calls.
HOW GOOGLE VOICE WORKS AND DOESN’T WORK
Their service can certainly be appealing. It effectively adds a second line to your phone, though there are some differences. Inbound calls are actually forwarded to the primary number on your cell phone, not to the mobile app. They used to ring to the mobile app, but not anymore. Also, text messages come to you via email, not via the mobile app. They too used to come to the mobile app, but not anymore. So really, much of the benefit of getting the second number has been diminished by the most recent releases of Google Voice. Nevertheless, there is still value in having the service.
Before we begin, be aware that some people have lost their numbers on Google Voice. And since Google Voice is an unsupported service, there was no way to retrieve them. In the cases where the numbers had vanished, callers to the numbers still heard the account owner’s voice greeting, and were able to leave voice messages, but the account owners were not able to see or hear them. In fact, all traces of the number disappeared from the online account interface. So be wary to at least some degree – especially if you have a number that is valuable to you.
Also, if your number is currently with a landline or VOIP carrier, you will first need to port the number to a wireless carrier. Google only recognizes numbers that are on wireless carriers – even through some numbers are already on Bandwidth’s (a wholesale carrier) network – the same network that Google Voice uses! Google still forces you to port away from Bandwidth and to a wireless carrier – before they port the number from the wireless carrier back to their Bandwidth wholesale account.
Regarding porting the number to a wireless account, you only need to port it to a prepaid account. Much cheaper. No contract and therefore no early termination fees. You can get a cheap phone and SIM card at the local Best Buy store. We recommend AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. The cost is minimal for the long term benefit you will enjoy.
HOW TO PORT A PHONE NUMBER INTO GOOGLE VOICE
With that in mind, porting to Google Voice is a straight forward process. It involves no paperwork. Log into your Gmail account, then go to https://voice.google.com. Then follow these Google instructions. Google charges a one time fee of $20. There is no charge beyond that. Port time is approximately 24 hours.
HOW TO PORT A PHONE NUMBER OUT OF GOOGLE VOICE
You can also port your number out of Google Voice, but you will need to first “unlock” the number. To do that…
Go to www.google.com/voice/unlock and sign into your Google Voice account.
If you only have one Google Voice number click Unlock my number underneath your Google Voice number. If you have more than one number, select the number you wish to port away from the drop down menu and then click Unlock my number.
Click Continue to confirm that you wish to unlock your number.
Sign into Google Wallet to complete your port out process.
Then, go to your wireless carrier’s store and give them your account information. Name and address is required. There is no PIN. And the account number is the phone number with a 1 in front of it. Eg., 19995551212. The lock/unlock feature, above, is the security measure Google puts into place.
If you want to port to a landline or VOIP carrier, take a screen shot of your account settings page where your number is displayed and submit that as the Customer Service Record that the new carrier will require. A CSR is another term for Phone Bill. Since you do not have a phone bill, that is the only proof you have that the number is yours. (Not much proof, unfortunately. Another weakness of Google Voice.)
Port time to a wireless carrier is about 24 hours. Port time to a landline or VOIP carrier network is about 10 calendar days.